Goethe Misidentified

On Facebook, I shared a photo of myself next to a statue of Goethe in Vienna. Facebook suggested I tag someone in the photo, and so I took a screenshot since I wanted to share Facebook’s suggestion with a wider audience: Personally, I don’t see the resemblance between the statue and my colleague Paul Valliere, [Read More...]

Selling Your Soul

The above cartoon appeared in the newspaper the same day we started discussing Goethe's Faust in my class. We have not reached his deal with Mephistopheles yet, but will next time. I usually get students to discuss what, if anything, they would sell their soul for – or, if they are not comfortable with that [Read More...]

Best Compliment Ever

Today, a student said the following words to me: You were a really great God. I told the class that that is the best compliment I’ve ever received in my life. Let me back up a bit and give the context. In my First Year Seminar Class “Faith, Doubt, and Reason,” our most recent reading [Read More...]

Missa Mirabilis: Doubt as an Act of Worship

Tonight (actually, yesterday by the time I am posting this) I went to hear a concert at the Hilbert Circle Theater featuring the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. The centerpiece of the concert was the world premiere of Stephen Hough’s mass, “Missa Mirabilis,” as arranged for choir and orchestra. The composer was [Read More...]

Faust and 42

As we began reading and discussing Goethe’s Faust in my freshman seminar class, I decided to raise an even bigger question than the ones that we had been tackling so far this semester. I asked them what the meaning of life is. One student raised his hand and said “42.” I had to explain it [Read More...]


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